Hundreds of students, athletes, coaches, faculty, staff and other members of the EMU community gathered today to mourn the loss of Sara Monger and support each other in a time of need.
Sara, a first-year EMU student and softball player from Elkton, Virginia, lost her life in a car accident early Saturday morning in Harrisonburg. Two other first-year EMU students, Kendyll Eddins and Silas Gwathmey, are recovering from non-life-threatening injuries sustained in the accident.
Those gathered this morning at Thomas Plaza came together in remembrance of Sara through music from EMU strings, commemoration of her life, prayer and a candle-lighting vigil.
In her remarks to the EMU community, President Susan Schultz Huxman celebrated the beautiful life lived by Sara and shared the outpouring of testimony from those who knew her.
Sara was known by many for her unwavering kindness and adventuresome spirit and was described by her Northlawn hallmates as “the life of the floor.” Friends were quick to remember Sara’s infectious smile and how she lit up a room.
“Sara’s first-year adviser and Transitions instructor, Chad Trevitte, says Sara brought a great sense of humor to class discussions,” Huxman said. “Her psychology professor, Kathryn Howard, reflects: ‘Sara was always a warm and smiling presence in class. Her zest for life shined.’”
“Her writing professor, Melody Wilson, notes: ‘I feel as if I have known Sara far longer than the short span in which we spent together on campus. That’s the impression she has left on me and on everyone in our class. She was an exceptionally caring and empathic student.’”
“Softball coach J.D. McCurdy called Sara ‘a hardworking and wonderful teammate.’”
Sara leaves behind a legacy of academic excellence and athletic achievement at East Rockingham High School, Huxman said. She called for prayers for Sara’s family and the wider East Rockingham community, as well as for healing for Kendyll and Silas.
“We pray for roommates and hallmates and teammates and classmates who are especially shattered by this loss and wondering: ‘What are we going to do without her?’ Huxman told the crowd. “Lord, hear our prayers for all those hurting.”
“In the darkest of times and at moments of tragic rupture and loss of a young life full of so much promise, we still come together to support one another and to affirm that God is with us. God has not abandoned us.”
Jennifer Cline, a member of the graduate counseling department at EMU, spoke about how grief was a journey. She shared some of the emotions that people might feel in the wake of the loss, including sadness, anger, guilt and confusion. Others might feel numb and question if there’s something wrong with them, she said. “All of these emotions are completely normal,” she said.
She encouraged people to care for one another and use the resources available on campus, including the support space in the University Commons and extended counseling hours. An informal gathering for faculty and staff to process their grief was held Monday afternoon in the dining hall.
Students are invited to write a card for Sara, Silas or Kendyll with the supplies in the President’s Reception Room of the University Commons over the next several days.
Counseling services have made special arrangements to provide support for students. Students should contact counseling services at 540-432-4317 or email email@example.com. Walk-in hours are held between 1 and 2 p.m. from Monday through Friday.